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Reducing Administrative Distractions

RAD program works on Sailors' ideas to eliminate distractions

"This began with the CNO," said Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski, talking about the Reduce Administrative Distractions program. "He'd been out around the fleet talking with the Sailors. And a lot of them really liked his warfighting first premise when he took over.

They said, 'you know CNO we like that and we believe in it, but we really don't have the time. We are caught up in the administrative part of our daily lives.' So he came back from that, and he wanted to do something about it."

What he did was listen to those Sailors. He set up a team to investigate the claims these Sailors were making and to find out what was going on.

"We hear about the administrative burdens and distractions, but we wanted to hear it directly from the Sailors," said Shelanski. "So we opened up a website, called the Reduce Administrative Distraction website on the Web. We wanted it to be accessible to all Sailors even when they were off duty."

More than 8,000 Sailors wrote in ideas, and those ideas were crowd sourced.

"It was an interactive website," said Shelanski. "So when a Sailor posts to the Web with an idea, other Sailors comment on it and say,' Yep, that's a great idea, I agree, it's the same thing in my community.' And what that does is it builds up a consensus and people vote on an idea. We had more than 91,000 votes, so there was a big contribution from the fleet; a lot of passion out there about some of things that we consider administrative distractions."

"It was a good feeling and kind of surprising to have my idea selected, but it's something people I work with have complained about before," said HM1 Virgil Newton, with Underwater Construction Team One in Little Creek, Va.

Newton is an independent duty hospital corpsman who recognized a severe flaw in the medical reporting system. With all of the programs that track medical readiness, he was concerned about a disconnect between many of the Navy's medical reporting programs; none of them were able to talk to each other.

"If your PHA wasn't updated in the system quickly, you weren't allowed to participate in the PRT," said Newton. "And if I were to try and pull up your record in a military treatment facility I couldn't see the same things that I saw if I tried to pull up your record on a ship. They don't speak to each other. And especially for people as they move closer to retirement or separation, moving into the VA world, there are a lot of things that are going undocumented or that are being documented that don't translate into your VA record, which is hurting our Sailors at the end of the day."
So he took to the website with his concern, and his suggestion.

"What I think would be a good fix to the technology difficulties we have in the medical field is essentially one universal platform that can be used jointly in between the different services, and you can run different programs for X-rays for tracking readiness, and they can operate as applications," said Newton. "All these different applications will feed to this one database, or one platform that can be used tri-service. And it can be pulled up by commanders, live feed as things are being updated and you can operate it remotely. So if I were to detach on a ship and not be in a vicinity where I can use the Internet, I can still operate the programs. Then when I came back to port it would stream all that information into the database, which tracks tri-service information."

Newton's idea soared to the top with thousands of Sailors agreeing that his concern was also a concern of theirs. Newton's idea is now among the first that the Navy has chosen to implement.

Shelanski believes this program will inevitably save the Navy money, especially if you consider a Sailor's time and money.

"Our Sailor's efforts and what they do day-in, day-out, we need them to focus on the important things," said Shelanski. "If you're on a ship and you have a certain amount of maintenance to do to your ship, if you have to spend 90 percent of your time doing the administrative part of a task and only 10 percent on the maintenance, we've got it wrong. Our Sailors are not doing the right thing and it's our fault. We are not giving them the tools to focus their time on the things that are important. Our goal is to help them to do that, to give them the tools that they recommended to us to allow them to do that."

Lt. James Paddock with EOD, ESU TWO agreed. His idea was aimed solely on saving Sailors time.

"I checked into a new command and they had that long laundry list of military training. And when I looked at it, it was substantial, thinking I'd probably spend two hours a month working on this. And I just thought that was a lot of manpower spent on something I've already learned," said Paddock. "So I got on the site and I wrote a suggestion, it was short. It mentioned all those things, and it also mentioned the fact that CPR is an every two-year requirement and that saves lives, but PII is every year and it safeguards information, but it doesn't teach you anything more than you've already learned. There is no skill to be refreshed there."

Again, thousands of Sailors agreed with Paddock and his idea rose to the forefront. His suggestion was also very popular, so popular that his idea also became one the Navy has decided to take a hard look at.

"The most valuable resource we have is our Sailors and their most valuable resource is their time. So if I only have to do these requirements when I show up to a new command, or after a major PCS, then that means I'd only do them every three or four years vice every year, but I would still get the information," said Paddock. "Thus saving a number of man hours. If this saves Navy Sailors a half an hour a month, that is almost 1.5 million man hours a year across the Navy alone. It saves us a lot of time to apply toward what we should be doing, which is warfighting."

Both Newton and Paddock said the website was extremely easy to use and that is one of the reasons they were encouraged to submit.

"I'm not a social media guru," said Paddock. "I'm the last person you would think would create a suggestion a post it on a website. That tells you how easy this was. I figured my idea would probably get traction, but I didn't think it would get this much traction. It's an important subject; it hits everyone monthly - more training and more training. It's important to the whole fleet."

OSC Michael Ojeda with NAVSEA, PEO IWS, was also one of three Sailors whose idea was chosen from the website. He believes the lifelines training and security reaction force training should not be done by ships.

"Stop having the ships do the training, which takes away three week's worth of Sailor time," said Ojeda. "Look toward making it a class in boot camp or as a stop after service school or boot camp before you get to your command. That way they show up to the ship ready to go."

Now the program is entering stage 4 - solutions, and end state.

"We are telling the fleet, we heard you, great recommendations," said Shelanski. "We are working on your solutions and we've got some really good ways ahead."